Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Special Needs Planning: A Multigenerational Effort

A daughter and sibling steps up to bear a heavy load

Let’s step into Sharon’s shoes. She’s the sister of Andy, who is developmentally disabled. Their elderly parents now count on Sharon’s help for shopping, getting to doctor appointments and overseeing their financial affairs.
Sharon lives the closest to their parents, so by default, the bulk of their care has become her responsibility. With their own failing health, her parents can no longer take care of Andy. Without long-term care planning, whether through savings, insurance or both, all of this family care becomes Sharon’s responsibility.

This is a heavy burden to place on anyone

This is a signifiant responsibility, especially for someone with a career, which is the case with Sharon, a CPA. She has two kids, a husband and a dog, and her life gets really nuts for at least three months every year. Sharon just turned 40, and she’s trying to save money for her kids’ college and her own retirement. Some days it all looks completely impossible.

With a special needs child, the needs grow exponentially

We talk a lot about being proactive, doing comprehensive estate planning that includes Living Trusts. But when there’s a family member with significant disabilities, the stakes quickly get higher; planning for their care becomes a family affair that transcends generations. Siblings need to be involved in the planning and care of their special-needs family member.
Parents of special needs children are focused on planning for a time when they will no longer be there to care for that child. Planning must cover a range of issues:
  • Who will manage the assets set aside for the child?
  • Who will oversee the child’s care needs?
  • What financial planning must be done now to ensure there are adequate assets to provide for that child?

Planning and financing two retirement strategies

As parents of special-needs children plan for retirement, they need to be developing and financing two retirement programs—one for themselves and one for their special-needs child.

Sharon’s story illustrates the importance of financial planning

Many parents of special-needs children envision their special-needs child living at home with the parents throughout their lives. That’s a good strategy, but if the child outlives his/her parents, it’s short-sighted. Adjusting to a new living arrangement can be traumatic for special-needs individuals. It takes time and stamina to research and leverage government and community benefits to reduce the burden on the other family members.

Does your family need to create or update a Special Needs Trust?

Make an appointment today by contacting us at one of our three Bay Area officesOur dedicated team is helpful, compassionate and affordable.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Don’t Underestimate the Power of a Deed

Jeff had been trying to sell a house he’s owned for 20 years. His realtor found a good buyer, but the preliminary title report showed that the man from whom he had purchased the property had a lien against it. The title company won’t issue title insurance for the new buyer until Jeff gets the lien removed, and Jeff has no idea why it’s there or where to start after so many years.

This cautionary tale illustrates the importance of a properly transferred Deed

These kinds of Deed issues are uncommon, but when they do occur, they make you aware of the power a Deed. Without clear title to a Deed, you can neither buy nor sell a property.

Deed of Trust is a mortgage lien on a property

In California we use a Deed of Trust to put a mortgage lien on a property. The Deed of Trust is recorded and serves as a lien. Deeds of Trust usually carry a provision that if the property is sold or otherwise transferred, the bank can call the loan due and payable immediately. Also, the presence of the lien on the property clouds the title, resulting in your not being able to sell the California property without paying off the existing mortgage and releasing the lien.

The mechanics of paying off the mortgage are straightforward

When you close escrow on a property, the escrow officer takes whatever money is necessary from the sale proceeds and pays off the existing mortgage. The escrow office then records a Reconveyance Deed, which cancels the Deed of Trust in the public records, letting the public know that the Deed of Trust is no longer in effect, thereby clearing the title.

So what happened in Jeff’s case?

In Jeff’s case, the most probable scenario is that the title company and escrow company that handled the purchase made a mistake. It happens. It’s likely they paid the balance of the loan, but through an administrative error, either failed to record the Reconveyance Deed or perhaps recorded it under the wrong parcel number.
  • At the same time, the title company issued a title insurance policy. The purpose of this policy is to protect you from exactly this type of problem.
  • Title insurance works just like your car insurance. If you get in an accident, you notify your insurance company so they can take care of you. The process is the same with title insurance.
  • What Jeff should do is call his old title company and find out how to make a claim.
  • At this point, the title company should figure out what they need to do to clear the title.
  • If the mortgage company that is the beneficiary of the Deed of Trust still exists, they may be willing to go ahead and record a Reconveyance Deed.
  • If the lender can’t be found, or otherwise isn’t willing to remove the lien, the remaining step is to file a lawsuit and ask a judge to clear the title.
In Jeff’s case, unfortunately, there’s been a 20-year interlude, and it well may require a legal intervention for him to get the title to his property so that he can sell it.

Do you have a Deed that needs to be transferred?

A Deed transfer is something that we can accomplish fairly easily, sometimes within a day. A cautionary note–many people have done refi’s over the last few years, and it’s easy to forget to move your property’s Deed back into your Trust. Make an appointment today by contacting us at one of our three Bay Area officesOur dedicated team is helpful, compassionate and affordable.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

New Opportunities for an Aging Work Force

Robert Metoli, 57, worked for eight years as a skilled technician at Lee Spring, a small Brooklyn manufacturer. His job required his standing all day and it took a toll; debilitating back pain meant he would have to quit a job he liked. The company’s CEO didn’t want to lose a good employee, so he gave him an opportunity to join a team of engineers that created work orders for jobs going out into the factory. The company scheduled and paid for the necessary training.

An experiment that worked

This mutually beneficial information-sharing between Metoli and the engineers was successful, and he’s now able to continue working, free of pain. A New York Times story, Reaping the Benefits of an Aging Work Force, by Kerry Hannon, shows how other employers are finding creative ways to keep their older workers on the job. They value their loyalty, experience and work ethic and flesh out their workforce with GenXers and millennials.

Trends and statistics on older workers and retirement

  • Many people, especially those who own their own businesses, don’t have any immediate plans to retire, or perhaps plan to semi-retire.
  • More than half of baby boomers plan to work past age 65 or not retire at all, according to a report by the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies.
  • Many worry that they will outlive their savings, that Social Security benefits will be reduced, and that they may someday need expensive long-term medical care.
  • Two age groups, 65 to 74 years old and 75 and older, are projected to have increasing annual rates of labor-force growth, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  • A problem associated with this growing demographic of older workers: Negative attitudes about the cost of older workers, their stamina, their technological ability and their enthusiasm for learning new ways of doing things.

A rising number of employers are hiring, retaining and supporting workers over 50

  • In our example above, Lee Spring was among 13 New York businesses and nonprofits that received Age Smart Employer Awards through this program.
  • The employers offer training and education opportunities and flexible scheduling; adapt physical tasks to the abilities of workers; provide advancement and leadership training for workers of all ages; retrain older workers; and allow phased retirement.
  • According to one expert, Dr. Linda Fried, Dean of the Mailman School: “We’ve increased our life expectancy by 50% in the last 100 years. Now we have to design society for longer lives.”
  • 100 businesses and nonprofits entered the 2017 Age Smart Employer competition, double the number in 2016. Here are four other companies with pioneering programs for older workers.

1. Military shipbuilding company, Huntington Ingalls Industries, operates The Apprentice School in Newport News, VA

  • No age limit. The company’s overall workforce of 22,000 is composed of 38% baby boomers, 40% millennials and 20% GenXers.
  • It takes a long time to become a master shipbuilder; this company values experience.
  • Keeping its workforce engaged with their work, there are intergenerational mentoring programs. Younger workers mentor older ones in the use of technology.

2. PKF O’Connor Davies is part of a network of independent accounting and advisory firms in 440 cities and 150 countries

  • Their 800 employees, ranging in age from 21 to 83, have the option to work shorter work weeks or flexible hours.
  • Some employees have relocated to offices closer to home for easier commutes or they telecommute part time.
  • Employees nearing retirement have reduced their hours or work as consultants.
  • “Hiring older workers for our team has been a homerun for us as well as for workers about to go into retirement or in retirement,” said Thomas F. Blaney, a partner and director of the firm’s Foundation Services. “It’s not about age really. We just want talented people.”

3. Silvercup Studiosis a New York, family-owned film and television production company

  • It was the film site for “The Sopranos,” “Girls” and “Sex and the City”.
  • Two workers recently celebrated their 30th anniversaries with Silvercup.
  • People with experience makes sense—they’re more settled and loyal. The costs of acquisition and training are high.

3. Michigan furniture maker, Steelcase, offers workers a phased retirement program

The company began a phased retirement program in 2012.
  • For the past year and a half, David Rinard, 62, director of environmental special projects, has been transitioning toward retirement.
  • He started his career at Steelcase in 1979 as an assistant environmental engineer and moved steadily up the ranks to director of global environmental performance, a position he held for 13 years.
  • Today, he’s semiretired. He earns an income without worrying about health care coverage before he is eligible for Medicare at 65.

A wide range of retirement-related conversations

Living Trusts are an important service for us, and many of our clients are in their 60s or 70s, so retirement-related topics are frequently part of our office dialog. If a Living Trust is something you keep putting off, there’s still time to complete your Trust in 2018. Make an appointment today by contacting us at one of our three Bay Area officesOur dedicated team is helpful, compassionate and affordable.